Thomas Vorley of Market Harborough (1803-1847) was the son of Samuel Vorley (1766-1821). Samuel was born in Great Addington, Northamptonshire, and was a clockmaker. Samuel Vorley’s burial in 1821 at Great Addington records him as a weaver and clockmaker. I have not found any information to indicate when Samuel became a clockmaker or if he was apprenticed.
Thomas appears in trade directories at Market Harborough at two addresses, Church Street in 1831 and High Street 1835. After Thomas’ death in 1847 his last wife Mary died shortly after in 1849. In her will she leaves the property in Great Addington that Thomas owned and was occupied by his mother, since re-married, to his mother and the business and property in Market Harborough was left to the Thomas’s surviving brothers and sisters and daughters of his brother Henry, Elizabeth Fryer Vorley and Louisa Fryer Vorley.
Henry Vorley (1813-1872), another son of Samuel and therefore Thomas’s brother, appears in Pigot’s directory for 1841 already in business in Thrapston as a watchmaker. Henry’s first wife Charlotte died in Market Harborough in 1855. The trade directory of 1855 confirms that Henry had moved his business to Market Harborough after his brother’s death in 1847. Some time later Henry moved to Colchester as he married Jane Huxtable in Colchester at a Eld Lane Baptist Chapel in 1856. Here he is described as a jeweller living at Butt Road, Colchester. I have found no clue as to what prompted the move to Colchester or whether it was a family or business opportunity. Two of his daughters Elizabeth Fryer Vorley and Louisa Fryer Vorley, married in Ipswich in 1860 and 1861. Checking the trade directories of Colchester and Ipswich has not indicated that Henry was trading on his own account but it is possible that he was working in a watchmaking business in Colchester as it was a significant industry in the town. Henry was buried back in Great Addington in 1872 when he was still described as a watchmaker.
There was a third brother, Samuel John Vorley (1821-1858) Samuel John’s career and movements can be put together from his two marriages, census and trade directories. In 1839 his marriage to Mary Ann Tomlin gives his residence as Rothwell and describes him as a watchmaker. Pigot’s 1841 directory lists a John Vorley, watchmaker at Corby, which as it is only six miles from Rothwell is probably the same Samuel John. At his second marriage in 1844 in Irthlingborough he is living at Higham Ferrers and is again described as a watchmaker. In 1851 he is living at Church Street, Crowland, Lincolnshire. The births of his children indicate that he probably moved from Crowland to Leicester between 1854 and 1855. In 1857 his daughter Mary Louisa Vorley was born in Leicester and Samuel John is described as a watchmaker (master).
(This article originally appeared in Clocks Magazine, July 2007)